Members of the House of Representatives have called on the federal government to yield to court orders on the release of leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
During plenary on Wednesday, the lawmakers cautioned that IMN members who have been protesting their leader’s continued detention could wreak more havoc.
El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah, were arrested in December 2015 after the group, also known as Shi’ites, clashed with Nigerian soldiers in Zaria, Kaduna State.
Despite several court orders granting him bail, the government has insisted on detaining him, causing agitations from his followers.
Just Tuesday, Shiite protesters stormed the National Assembly complex in Abuja demanding El-Zakzaky’s freedom. Two police officers were shot while several cars were damaged after the protest degenerated into violence.
At plenary on Wednesday, Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader, introduced a motion calling on his colleagues to probe the matter and ensure adequate security measures are in place at the legislative chamber.
While some of his colleagues agreed with the need for improved security, others emphasised that they should instead address “the root cause” of the protests which they identified as the continued detention of el-Zakzaky.
They argued that the circumstances surrounding the matter are similar to what led to the emergence of the Boko Haram insurgent group.
Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom said it is unfortunate that while the lawmakers are empowered to make laws, the federal government is going against the rule of law in disobedience to the court orders ordering the release of the IMN leader.
“If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should cal on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the national assembly alone,” he said.
Bamidele Salam from Osun state said El-Zakzaky’s continued detention is injustice and “injustice to one is injustice to all.”
“I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course … to ensure that Boko Haram is not replicated in Shiites movement,” he added.
“If we are able to secure the national assembly, what happens to the man and woman in the market elsewhere?”
Simon Davou from Plateau state said rather than detain el-Zakzaky against court orders, the government should release him “and ensure surveillance, with enough security operatives to monitor his activities.”